The other night Stoker scrubbed the inside of his elbow too vigorously with the pumice stone. He was taking a bath, reading his book on recording engineering, and he got this itch on his inner elbow. You know, the soft, pale part of your arm just below the bulge of round joint. I don’t know what he was thinking using a pumice stone there. But he did. He’s new to pumice stones, I suppose and didn’t realize that you should only use them on tough, calloused skin like the bottom of your feet and elbows.
The itch flared up and the light blue, foot shaped pumice stone was resting on the edge of the bathtub, innocently minding its own business. Stoker’s eyes fell on its white flecked beauty and the idea struck him. He grabbed the light stone and scraped it lightly across the tender skin. It felt good. Deceivingly good. With a sigh, he brushed the skin with the pumice stone, effectively eliminating the itch.
Later, the skin turned red. Raw. That’s when the whole story came spilling out: itch… pumice stone…I scrubbed it and it was great, at the time. But now it hurt. Like a burn. Poor kid. I truly felt bad for him, felt a little guilty for not warning him about the potency of a pumice stone. Though, when you think about it, I’m sure he knew. How could you not? I mean, it’s like sandpaper. No one rubs their skin with sandpaper, right?
Unfortunately (but rather adorably), sometimes Stoker attacks an idea vigorously, like he attacked that itch, without thinking about the outcome. I do it all the time. Who doesn’t? It’s the eagerness of youth, a quality you rarely see in people over 50—they just don’t pummel headlong into foreign territory without considering the results.
For example, when Stoker was in high school, he painted the horns of his family’s goats. Red or blue or something. Maybe yellow, I don’t know. But the point is, you’d be hard pressed to see a 55 year-old man out in the yard painting his goat’s horns. If you did, you’d check him into the nursing home, citing dementia as your reason. Seeing a 17 year-old boy doing it, you just laugh and shake your head. Kids.
That’s the beauty of it, I think. When Stoker related the pumice stone debacle, I fell more in love with him. How could I not? And maybe in ten years, these sorts of incidents will bother me. I like to doubt it. I like to feel certain that the confidence he has about living and the little mistakes he makes because of that youthful eagerness will always make me laugh. Like a few weeks ago, when he made waffles from scratch and said, “It’s no problem, it’s really easy. Flour, water, oil, sugar, eggs. Like pancakes. Easy.” Later, after he put three eggs in and we were trying to cut through the spongy things, we joked about having waffles that tasted more like meringue. Though it was bit of an inconvenience at the time, it was actually quite great. It really was.
The red burn-like sore on his arm has scabbed over; little red pinpricks. In case you doubted the veracity of how much damage the misapplied pumice stone had done. In the future I would advise all to be careful with pumice stones. And in 30 years, if you see a grown man painting the horns of his goats, don’t worry, he’s not crazy, it’s just Stoker.